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Guest column: Another great Film Festival in the books

Posted on September 30th, 2022 By: Lee Jorgenson

“It’s like I have ESPN or something,” a quote from the 2004 movie “Mean Girls.”

Well, probably not ESPN, but if you had any ESP going on, you took yourself to the 2022 Gig Harbor Film Festival last weekend. And what a weekend it was!

The festival launched on Thursday evening with a welcome chat from Gig Harbor Mayor Tracie Markley, to a full house at the Gig Harbor Galaxy’s IMAX Theater. A premier viewing followed of “The Ventures: Stars on Guitars,” a documentary of the world-famous instrumental rock band from Tacoma.

Of course, the mega screen was the perfect venue for the Venture’s iconic sound, and the progression from Tacoma garage band to celebrating 60 years of international fame and acclaim. This film was directed by cofounder Don Wilson’s daughter, Staci, and received kudos from such luminaries as Billy Bob Thornton, Jimmy Paige, John Fogerty and Randy Bachman.

The film was followed by a lively party (for VIP attendees and filmmakers) at Fondi Pizzeria, next door in the Uptown Center. The party was just one of the social events which surround the festival and was spectacular. Noshing on Fondi’s delicious Italian faire, having a cocktail with the numerous film makers and actor/actresses who were present, or renewing old friendships. The Gig Harbor Film Festival offers an unequaled opportunity to interact with the working artists who attend the festival. For the young at heart, there was an after, after soiree at Dunagan’s Irish Pub, also here in the Harbor.

Friday morning descends into a plethora of cutting-edge choices for your cinematic appetite. There are three Galaxy theatres running simultaneously throughout the day from approximately 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Full length features, documentary shorts, made-in-Washington shorts, foreign films, junior filmmakers’ series, general interest shorts, etc.

This year’s full-length offerings came in from all over the world and were of the highest quality in both content and technical expertise. Any of the short programs feature from eight to 12 unique selections that will leave your head spinning with a rousing variety of visual and mental inspiration.

All films are shown twice during the weekend, so it is always possible to catch the flick you want to see without any conflicts. The menu of over 60 original Indie films continues uninterrupted again on Saturday for approximately the same hours.

On Friday evening, for VIP pass holders and filmmakers, Peter Morkill and his wife Liz host a Gala’s Gala party at their waterfront manse looking east toward Tacoma and Vashon Island. This year’s party enjoyed perfect late summer weather, delicious appetizers and open bar, followed by entrée sandwiches while (at Liz’s urging) the night was enhanced by The Ventures’ tunes.

If you’ve seen anything you liked during the day’s viewings (and how could you not) chances are that film’s director and supporting cast are at the party to dissect any of your questions as to technique, inspiration, equipment, budgeting etc. Saturday’s program also included a more casual evening BBQ adjacent to the movie theatre.

The festival culminates with a champagne brunch and Awards Ceremony on Sunday morning. All films have been individually previewed by GHFF President Chris Jones and the Selection team, and included a powerful Civil War drama, “Freedom’s Path,” which won Best Feature Length Film.

Another spectacular award winner was “700 Feet Under,” a documentary on the mishaps of our own Galloping Gertie Bridge, which included dramatic underwater footage of the aquatic environment created when the bridge collapsed. 700 Feet received the award for best film made in Washington.

This year’s Gig Harbor Film Festival was offered to the public for the astonishing value of $40 for a pass that included admission to any and all of the films throughout the duration of the festival. For $300, VIP Passes were available which included early access to all the films, as well as admission to all of the related social events of the weekend.

2022’s edition of the Gig Harbor Film Festival was a spectacular success, attaining a rating by Film Freeway as one of the top 100 film festivals IN THE WORLD. The festival enjoyed a continuance of the outstanding programing GHFF is known for, and most importantly, the festival is populated by the smiling faces of so many of our friends and neighbors, which makes the GHFF a gem among local film festivals.

Please mark your calendars for Sept. 21-25, 2023, and join us for another can’t miss Gig Harbor weekend.